Janice Roque wins district-wide spelling bee in Apache Junction

“Xenophobic” was the winning word for Janice Roque in the Apache Junction Unified School District district-wide spelling bee held Thursday, Jan. 20, at the Apache Junction High School Performing Arts Center, 2525 s. Ironwood Drive.

The first-place winner is a seventh-grade student at Cactus Canyon Junior High School, 801 W. Southern Ave.

Second place went to seventh-grade student Ariana Cecelic, also from Cactus Canyon. Bailey Furrow, a fifth-grade student from Desert Vista Elementary, 3701 E. Broadway Ave., took third place; and Hailey Neaman, another seventh-grader from Cactus Canyon, placed fourth, according to a press release.

The competition started with words such as “tarmac” and “tenement” and grew progressively more challenging. By the end of round one, more than half of the competitors – all winners from their individual schools – were out.

By round three, five spellers remained from the original 20, but it took three more rounds to determine the winning placement as the final four demonstrated their mastery of the English language.

“All of these students spelled extremely challenging words,” district facilitator and bee coordinator Robyn Gonzales said in the release. “The students who made it through to the end are definitely excellent spellers. It will be fun to see how they do at the next level.”

Janice, Ariana and Bailey will now move on to the Pinal County Spelling Bee scheduled for Friday, Feb. 19, in Casa Grande. Hailey will serve as the alternate.